Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Windows 10 Launched Today - Is it Worth Upgrading?

Microsoft launched the much hyped Windows 10 operating system today, July 29, 2015. Microsoft is actually giving Windows 10 away for free. Yes, it's true and no it’s not the trial version, it’s the full version of the new operating system. Consumers who currently have Windows 7 or 8.1, are able to get Windows 10 as a free upgrade.

My favourite Windows operating system was and is Windows 7. I completely skipped Windows Vista (thankfully) and have been able to skip Windows 8 so far. From what I see, Windows 10 seems to be a crossover, incorporating the best of Windows 7 and Windows 8, into this new Windows 10 operating system.

I’m liking what I see so far, but am not ready to upgrade yet. For now, I’m sticking with Windows 7 until the dust settles. I’m in the market for a new laptop at which point, I think I will go for Windows 10.

So what’s new in Windows 10? Well, the video review below does a good job of covering many of the cool new features in Windows 10. However, let me share some of the key features that I really like in Microsoft’s brand new operating system.

START Button: Well, first of all, I must admit that I do like and am quite accustomed to the START button. Well, it’s back in Windows 10 and I’m sure many MS Windows users will be happy about that.

Platform Versatility: Windows 10 can be used across various platforms, that is, on computers, tablets, and smartphones. And it can also be integrated with Microsoft’s Xbox One console. The Xbox App allows users to play games without having an Xbox One console. If you do have an Xbox One, you can connect it to your Windows 10 PC and stream your gaming on your PC.

Continuum: Talking about the versatility of this new operating system, Continuum allows users to turn their computer into a tablet. Essentially, Continuum gives you the flexibility to work in desktop mode or touch-screen tablet mode while adjusting and optimizing the user-interface.

Cortana: is Windows’ new digital Personal Assistant with a sense of humor. Cortana will help users find things around their PC, give users reminders, help manage your calendar, send emails, and much more.

Snap Assist: I think I will like the Snap Assist feature because I constantly multi-task and have several applications open at the same time. With Snap Assist, you can drag a specific window to a section of the screen and Windows will automatically adjust the other open app windows.

Windows Edge: is Microsoft’s new browser that turns the web into your own canvas. Essentially, with Edge you can write notes and draw doodles with a variety of annotations on live web pages. You can then save the annotations as well as share them with others. You can write freehand, type, and even highlight with different colors.

MS Office Apps: Windows 10 comes with free MS Office apps like Excel, Word, PowerPoint, though these are stripped down versions app of MS Office. It also comes with a Screen Capture app that allows you to capture video to create tutorials or capture your gaming action.

Windows Hello: allows you to log into your computer using facial recognition or your fingerprint.

So that’s it in a nutshell – though there is still much more to this new operating system. Having said so, I’m not yet ready to give a 10 rating to the Windows 10 operating system. I guess time will tell if and how users embrace Windows 10. I’m really hoping that it is as good or better and Windows 7.

If you are currently on Windows 8, you probably will benefit from upgrading. But for users, like me, who are still using Windows 7, I think it may be better to wait until at least the initial launch.

If you want to Buy Microsoft Windows 10 Home, you will have to wait until August 5, 2015, but you can Pre-order Windows 10.

What will you do? Are you going to wait or go right ahead and upgrade to Windows 10? Feel free to share your thoughts and experience with Microsoft's new operating system!

Microsoft, Windows, and the Windows logo are trademarks, or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

If you use the link above to purchase the product. I may earn a commission as a Amazon Associate. This recommendation and review is based on my firsthand experience using this product myself.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Google+ Breaks Up with YouTube

Well, not yet, but there are changes coming in terms of how Google is going to take the focus off Google+ and put it more on a user’s Google Account. Earlier today, according to an official blog post titled “Everything in its right place”, Google announced that they will be making a few changes in the coming months.

Google’s VP of Streams, Photos, and Sharing, Bradley Horowitz said “People have told us that accessing all of their Google stuff with one account makes life a whole lot easier. But we’ve also heard that it doesn’t make sense for your Google+ profile to be your identity in all the other Google products you use.

Essentially, they are decentralizing the Google+ Profile which currently acts as a user’s identity across Google services like Gmail, YouTube, Google+, Drive, Hangouts, etc. Their plan is to make users’ Google Account as their main identity for Google services. Also, currently, Google+ Profiles are searchable via Google Search, whereas, users’ Google Account won’t be.

One of the first changes that we will see is the decoupling of Google+ and YouTube. Based on the official blog post from the YouTube Team titled “Keeping the conversation going” and immediate change will be that comments made on YouTube videos will not appear on Google+ and vice-versa. As far as I know, my comments that I posted on YouTube videos never appeared on Google+ unless I checked the box to allow comments to appear on my Google+ timeline (see screenshot below).

Also, going forward, once the changes are implemented, users won’t need a Google+ profile to create a YouTube channel, upload videos and comment on YouTube videos. Bear in mind that these changes have not yet been implemented, therefore, don’t rush to delete your Google+ profile. In doing so, you will delete your YouTube channel, and you don’t want that – so hold your horses!

When changes like these are implemented one often thinks whether the death of Google+ is soon coming. It’s difficult to say because Google has done this before where they’ve launched products and then pulled them off the shelves. To that end, Mr. Horowitz says “We think changes like these will lead to a more focused, more useful, more engaging Google+.” So Google+ is here to stay as far as we know it.

I know many people don’t like Google+ and cringed when the Google+ profile was used as the one central identity for Google services. I may be in the minority when I say this, but personally, I like Google+ much better than Facebook and liked the fact that I had a choice to allow my comments to appear on Google+. It helped greatly because I have an active YouTube channel and could managed comments from within YouTube as well as from within Google+.

As far as I know it, now Google+ and YouTube are going to be separate which means duplicate work if I want to share it on Google+. On the brighter side, I do like that our Google Accounts will be our main identity for using Google services, instead of the Google+ profile.

Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc., used with permission.
Broken Hearted Graphic Public Domain CC0 via

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Amazon All Set for Prime Day

Amazon, the largest online retailer in the US, is all set for Prime Day on July 15, 2015. The company has touted this one-day only sale, Prime Day, as “More deals than Black Friday.

Amazon is celebrating their 20th anniversary with Prime Day, their version of Black Friday in July, only better. Amazon Prime was first launched in 2005 and has since become popular among regular Amazon shoppers who’ve made the best of this membership.

So is Amazon Prime worth it? Well, I guess the answer to that will depend on how you intend to use it. Amazon Prime membership costs US$99 per year.

Below are some of the main benefits of being an Amazon Prime member:

  • Free two-day shipping;
  • Free online movie streaming;
  • Access to ad-free music;
  • Unlimited photo storage;
  • Exclusive deals.

Some zip codes are eligible for free same-day shipping as well. Also, with Prime membership up to four eligible household members (who live at the same address) can use the membership for shipping benefits at no extra cost.

Learn more about Amazon Prime and its members benefits and some restrictions. If you don’t have Amazon Prime membership, you can get a 30-day free trial and still access the exclusive discounts available on Prime Day on July 15, 2015.

Amazon released some examples of deals you can expect on Prime Day:

  • Kindle, $30 off
  • Fire HD 7, $60 off
  • Fire HD 7 Kids Edition, $60 off
  • 32-inch LED TV, $75
  • 40-inch 1080p LED TV, $115
  • Brand-name 32-inch Smart HDTV, under $200
  • Chromebook laptop, only $199
  • Over 50% off two Nikon COOLPIX cameras
  • 40 lightning deals on DVDs up to 75% off
  • And many more.

Affiliate Disclaimer: The links in this post contain affiliate links and I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Explaindio Video Creator 2.0 PRO Review

Explaindio Video Creator (EVC) is one of the most powerful sketch and animation video software in the market. The current stable version of Explaindio is 1.014 and I’ve personally used it for the past few months. I've enjoyed it's flexibility and functionality.

When I first came across Explaindio, I was amazed by the functionality available in this video creation software. Having done some of my homework on the features and price, I decided to buy it.

At the time I purchased EVC 1.014, it was priced at $47 one-time cost for lifetime, so it was a no brainer because similar software cost an arm and a leg.

I was able to test almost all of the features and functionality of this incredible video creation software and create several videos using it. In the meantime, the founder of Explaindio Video Creator was working on the next generation of EVC and made it available to a limited number of beta testers. I was one of the beta testers who purchased the beta version EVC 2.0. It went through several iterations and it finally ready for launch. I'm impressed with the final product.

How much will Explaindio 2.0 PRO cost?

Fast forward a few months and Explaindio 2.0 PRO is ready for launch on July 1, 2015 at EST 12.01 AM. At launch, there will be an early-bird period starting from 12.01 AM to 2:00 PM EST. The discounted price, of $23.50 per year, will be available ONLY for current EVC 1.x owners.

Yes, the new Explaindio upgrade is going to be on a yearly subscription going forward. New customers will be paying $47 per year. Current EVC 1.x member will be paying $47 the following year, while new customers will be paying $57 the following year.

What is the difference between EVC 1.x compared to EVC 2.x?

Well, before I get into the comparison part of the two versions, you should know that EVC 1.x will be phased out. Basically, EVC 2.x has a new architecture and there are two versions of EVC 2.x. There is a Standard version and a Professional version. EVC 2.x Standard includes several bug fixes that were present in EVC 1.x.

You won’t find the same features that will be in EVC 2.x PRO. EVC 2.x Standard will be given free to current EVC 1.x owners. EVC 2.x PRO includes all the bug fixes and comes with a whole bunch of new features, including animation of text, pictures, slides and videos.  It has many other cool new features, some of which I will list down below and discuss in more detail the following section:

  • Animation of text, pictures, graphics, slides, videos;
  • Sketch-to-animation;
  • Sketch-to-video;
  • Green screen video;
  • Dynamic zoom and rotation of elements;
  • Filled (solid) line text sketching;
  • Importing of TTF fonts.

What are the new features in Explaindio 2.0 PRO?

First of all, one of the first things you will notice is that EVC 2.x has a new user-interface which is blackish-grey in color, compared to the pinkish-red color in EVC 1.x.

Animation feature in EVC 2.0 PRO allows you to animate various types of elements on the canvas like text, pictures, graphics, slides, and video. This animation feature enables you to control the way these elements transition, in and out, of the canvas. This includes the dynamic zoom and rotation of all the elements mentioned above. For example, you can create the Ken Burns Effect using zooming and panning.

Sketch-to-Animation is similar to what I described above. Essentially, you can sketch various elements like text, graphics, pictures, videos, etc. and then animate them using the animation functionality in EVC 2.0 PRO. Using this feature, once the sketch is completed, you can move the element around the canvas creating a cool and professional effect.

Sketch-to-Video is a unique feature that I’ve not seen in too many video creation applications. Basically, with this new feature in EVC 2.0 PRO, you can sketch the initial scene in the video and let it transition from a sketch to a live video. Used in conjunction with the other features listed above, you can create professional-looking videos with slick transitions.

Green Screen Video feature allows you to create videos that replaces any color with animation, sketches, videos and pictures. It’s a great way to incorporate cool video effects within a video or slide.

Solid Line Sketching enables you to sketch text, graphics, and other elements in solid (filled) line as opposed to just an outline. You still have the option to sketch the outline if you wish and then transition to a solid line sketch as you can currently do in EVC 1.x.

Importing of TTF Fonts is now doable in EVC 2.0 PRO. With this new feature, you can import various types of fonts that are in TTF (True Type Font) format. This will not only allow you expand your video arsenal, but with EVC 2.0 PRO you can also sketch from right to left. This means that you can now use the sketch to write in other languages like Arabic and Hebrew.

They say “If a picture is worth a thousand words then a video is priceless.” If you haven't already, I would suggest that you check the video above to see for yourself the possibilities of EVC 2.0 PRO.

Is it worth upgrading to EVC 2.0 PRO? Or should I stick with EVC 2.0 PRO?

That is something only you can answer because it purely depends on your needs. If you think that the features in EVC 2.x Standard will suffice for your needs, then I would suggest sticking with it. However, if you are a marketer or video creator who has clients or use it for your business, then I would highly recommend getting EVC 2.0 PRO because it will give you much more leverage. Having said so, there are a couple of kinks worth noting.

In EVC 2.0 PRO you will need your videos to be in MP4 format at 24 fps (frames per second). You can purchase the Explaindio Video Converter separately or use one of the many online video converters. I’ve had no issues using to convert my videos for free. You can check my video tutorial on How to Convert Videos to MP4 Format.

One aspect of the Explaindio 2.0 PRO launch that most customers of EVC 2.0 PRO were overwhelmed about, were the innumerable OTOs (One-Time Offers). There were 15 OTOs in all, totaling over one thousand dollars. I've personally never seen so many OTOs and it was off-putting for sure. Having said so, I did go back and purchase one OTO which I found would be useful for my work with EVC 2.0.

There is a learning curve to using Explaindio Video Creator and I’ve personally not seen a good set of tutorials. I’m in the process of creating EVC 2.0 PRO tutorials to help users. I’ve already created a bunch of tutorials and will be adding more in the coming days and weeks. You can check my YouTube channel for my Explaindio Video Tutorials and Reviews.

I understand that I’ve not covered everything there is to know about the new Explaindio Video Creator 2.0 PRO. However, if you have any specific questions, please feel free to ask and I will do my best to respond to them.

- Explaindio Video Creator logo and screenshots are copyright protected, used with permission.
- Commercial Rights to use videos & images used in this video production.
- Commercial rights to use other videos and animations

If you use the link above to purchase the product. I may earn a commission as a JVZoo affiliate. This recommendation and review is based on my firsthand experience using this product myself.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Overview of Google+ Collections

Google launched Google+ Collections in May 2015. It’s a new feature in Google’s social network to help organize posts.

With Collections, users can group their posts, including pictures and videos, based on topic. Doing so, will help you keep your posts organized and help your users find relevant posts more efficiently.

Also, given that each Collection has a separate URL, users can follow a particular Collection if they wish. By default, anyone following you on Google+ will automatically be following all your Collections.

Google+ launched in June 2011 and hasn’t garnered as much popularity like Facebook has. Based on stats that I’ve seen online, currently Facebook is estimated as having over a billion users. Comparatively, Google+ has approximately 300 million users.

I was among the first to test out Google+ when it first launched by invite-only. Ever since, I’ve been using Google+ fairly actively and I would say, much more than I use Facebook. Anyway, I’m sure this doesn’t apply to everyone. However, if you are a business owner, including being self-employed, you would definitely benefit from using Google Plus.

Well, getting back to Google+ Collections, given that they are fairly new, I’m sure they will evolve, so we can expect changes as we go along. But for now, you can create Collections around topical posts; you can customize them with a relevant name and personalized cover photo, as well as apply different colors to them. The recommended size for the cover photo is 1080x608 pixels. The maximum photo size is 2120x1192. And the picture should not be smaller than 480x270.

You can also control who sees your Collections. That is, you set the privacy settings to private or public. However, note that at this point, you cannot edit the “private/public” settings of your Collections once you create them. Though, if you wish, you can delete a particular Collection.

Once you create a Collection, you can add previously shared Google+ posts to the Collection. Also, you can share Collections with those following you, just like you would a regular Google+ post. Personally, I like this new feature that Google has introduced because I like to keep things organized.

Google+ Collections is available on Android for smartphone users. You will have to update your Google+ app to be able to access this new feature. Apple iOS users will have to wait to use Collections.

I’ve created several video tutorials on Google+ Collections, so feel free to check them out. You will find videos on: what are Google+ Collections; how to create, edit and customize Collections, and others.

Learn to use Google+ Collections, I think you will find them useful. Google also has a Featured Collections page, you never know when your Collections will get featured and give you that little bit of extra exposure.

Friday, May 1, 2015

How to Make Animated GIFs Using GIF Maker

Sharing GIF animated images has become popular, especially on social media. I’ve been contemplating creating some simple GIF animations, and I’ve quite enjoyed using some GIF animation websites.

One particular website that I liked was What I like about this GIF maker website is its simplistic design and that you don’t need to open an account to create animated GIFs.

Before I proceed writing my review on, I thought I’d explain what is a GIF image. GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format which is essentially an image file format. You’ve probably heard of file formats like PNG (Portable Network Graphic) and JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group).

GIF file formats support animation, however, they are limited to 256 colors. Thereby creating low-resolution images with smaller file sizes. Therefore, they are not recommended for color photos, rather they are used for simple graphics, logos, icons and cartoons. By now, I’m sure you’ve noticed the animated blog post intro image. Well, it’s an animated GIF image created using and so is this Mark Twain quote below:

All the animated images you see on this blog post are examples of GIF animated images. All these animated GIFs were created using Creating GIFs using this website is quite simple. You can create a quick GIF image in three easy steps:

  • Step 1: Upload your pictures;
  • Step 2: Set the canvas size and animation speed;
  • Step 3: Create the animation.

You can then download the animated GIF image which will be in “.GIF” format and then share it on social media, on your blog or website. You can check my video review on and see it in action as I create the GIF as well as share other features and functionality of the website.

Even though I mentioned earlier that GIFs are not recommended for color photos, I did try to make a GIF with recent photos of my Niagara Falls visit. As you can tell, the picture quality is not that crisp, however it’s ok to share this animated GIF on social media sites. The more pictures you include in an animated GIF and the more colors in the photos, the bigger the file size. In this particular GIF image, I included about 15 photos and it ended being a 3.96 MB file size.

Animated GIFs can be very useful as short instructional tools. Rather than creating a video tutorial, GIFs can be used for providing quick instructions just by taking screenshots and creating an animation. You can give it a try and create your very first GIF using't worry you won't break anything!

Credits: logo and screenshots are copyright protected, used with permission.